Synonymous with the religious holiday, the Easter lily is used in many arrangements during the season. You’ll find it in table centerpieces and on church altars—you might even receive one as a hostess gift. The beautiful trumpet-shaped white flower is a symbol of purity and peace for many people. (Though pet lovers should note one important detail: the Easter lily is toxic to cats.)
According to the University of Illinois Extension, over eight million Easter lilies are grown in the United States—three common varieties are “Ace” (which grows to 18 inches tall), “Croft” (24 inches), and “Estate” (three feet).
So, how do you care for these pretty plants so that they last well past Easter? And how do you get them planted for next Easter season? We asked professional landscaper and HGTV and DIY Network host Chris Lambton for his expert advice.
For Container Easter Lilies
Most Easter lilies come in a potted form—especially if you buy the plant from a flower shop, or even the grocery store. “You should be careful not to overwater and make sure that it is placed near a south-facing window with plenty of sun,” Lambton says. “It does like cooler temperatures and you should be careful not to place near vents as it will dry out.” Place it a few feet away from the window, or drape your sheer curtains, since the lilies prefer indirect light. Keep the soil moist, but not too wet. And for proper drainage, you might want to remove the decorative foil most potted Easter lilies come in.
If you are planting a bulb in a container, Lambton recommends planting it in a well-drained pot with good potting soil (not too dense or wet).
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For Easter Lilies in a Vase
When arranging lilies in a vase, cut the stems on a 45-degree angle so the flowers can get enough water. Like you would with other flower arrangements, make sure no leaves touch the water (this spreads bacteria). Place the lilies in the vase with fresh water—you can also add nutrients to the water (like flower food, lemon juice, and sugar). Change the water every other day. Keep in a cool place out of the sunlight, and remove the pollen on the stamen since it can stain fabrics and also ruin the flower petals.
For In-Ground Easter Lilies
“When planting outdoors make sure you have waited until after the fear of frost has passed,” Lambton says. “It likes full sun and well-drained soil.” Plant the bulb into the soil, about six inches in, and cover with water and soil. If you are planting it from a pot, Lambton suggests waiting for the flowers to die off and the leaves to drop before you plant it in the ground. And this is the plant that keeps on blooming: “The following year after it’s in the ground, it will bloom later in the year [Easter season] and often times will re-bloom in the summer too.”